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Serbia parliament adopts declaration condemning Srebrenica massacre

[JURIST] The Serbian Parliament [official website] adopted a declaration early Wednesday morning condemning the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive], in which 8,000 Muslims were killed. After a day-long debate, "The Declaration of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Condemning the Crime in Srebrenica" [official summary] was passed by a narrow margin, with 127 out 250 members [AP report] voting in its favor. The parliament also called upon other former Yugoslavian countries to issue similar declarations [press release]. Head of the Deputy Group for European Serbia Nada Kolundzija stated that "passing the declaration is in the Serbian people's best interest and it is its moral duty to distance itself from the crime." The declaration was also met with criticism from some members of parliament. MP Dragan Todorovic told Serbia's Radio Srbija that the declaration should be withdrawn [Radio Srbija report] because of the negative light it will cast on the nation. Other criticisms are that the declaration did not call the massacre a genocide and that the declaration did not condemn all of the crimes that occurred in Yugoslavia from 1991-1995.

On Tuesday, The Hague Appeals Court upheld UN immunity [JURIST report] from prosecution in claims brought by relatives of victims of the Srebrenica massacre. The group, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, alleged that the Netherlands should be held liable for Dutch soldiers negligently failing to protect civilians during the Bosnian conflict by forcing them out of a UN-designated "safe area." The court found that immunity is essential to the UN being able to carry out its duties and that the Dutch soldiers could not be held responsible in their capacity as UN peacekeepers. Earlier this month, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [JURIST news archive] made his opening statement [JURIST report] before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where he is being tried for war crimes. He is defending himself against 11 counts, including genocide and murder. Karadzic has called the massacre a farce [JURIST report] promulgated by Bosnian Muslims to incite hatred against Serbian forces. He could face life in prison if convicted.

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